When people reach retirement, there is often a desire to switch to a more laidback lifestyle. Retiring to tropical destinations like Thailand is popular thanks to the beautiful natural surroundings, welcoming people and affordability. However, one travelling to Thailand should always make sure they have the correct insurance, especially due to the coronavirus pandemic worldwide.
Thailand has made the process easier thanks to their introduction of a retirement visa program that allows those over the age of 50 years and with adequate proof of funds the privilege of residing within the kingdom for extended periods. While there are certain standards to be met in attaining and retaining this visa, it leaves a retiree comfortably free to reside anywhere within Thailand.
The requirements for acquiring a retirement visa to Thailand have remained much the same for many years. This is with the exception of new rules that came with the onset of the pandemic. However, in 2021, the government upgraded health insurance requirements for retirement visa’s, which now apply to new applicants for the visa and will require those already in the kingdom to make the necessary upgrades by August 2022.
Let’s first look at the standard requirements for a Thai retirement visa.
Basic Requirements for A Thai Retirement Visa
When applying for a Thai retirement visa, you will need:
- To have attained the age of 50 years or older
- Have a valid passport with at least one year to expiry
- Show proof of funds – this can be in the form of a security deposit of at least THB 800,000 in a Thai bank account, or have a minimum monthly income of THB 65,000, or a combination of both that amounts to at least THB 800,000.
Proof of funds should be demonstrated through an updated bank book or passbook that is in the applicant’s name and for a recognised Thai bank. A letter of confirmation from said bank stating the deposit amount in the account came from an overseas source. The amount should also have cleared 2 months before the application for the visa.
Where the funds supporting the application are coming from monthly income, the applicant will need to provide a 12-month bank statement showing regular deposits of at least THB 65,000 into the Thai bank account. A supporting certified letter from the applicant’s embassy in Thailand is also required.
In some cases, the immigration department may also request additional documentation such as a police clearance certificate and/or a medical certificate.
Once the visa is approved, you will need to submit to 90-day reporting requirements and ensure you apply for a re-entry permit whenever you travel abroad intending to return. Otherwise, you should seek to acquire a multiple re-entry permit that will make it easier to go through immigration without fear your visa may end up cancelled.
The Thai retirement visa is renewable annually. You will need to re-submit the same kind of paperwork as you did the first time, just updated. Know that this visa does not come with a work permit.
How to Apply
You can choose to apply for a retirement visa from your country of residence or from within Thailand. If from your country of residence, you will need to first enquire with the local Thai embassy on what documentation is required. Once you assemble all the documentation and complete the application forms, you can then submit them to the Thai embassy or consulate.
For those that regularly travel to Thailand or want to first experience living in the country before any long term commitment, it makes sense to apply for a retirement visa while within the kingdom. Just ensure you travel with all the paperwork you will need. Keep in mind that you will need to be on a 90-day non-immigrant visa issued by a Thai embassy or consulate outside the kingdom.
You will need to assemble all the required documents and complete the visa application forms before submitting them to an immigration office. Ensure that you also have proof of address in the form of a lease/rent agreement or utility bill. The submission of documents should only be done after you have stayed for at least 60 days on the said visa. That means you should be on the last 30 days before the visa stamp is due to expire.
From 2019, annual health insurance became a requirement for the duration of the travellers stays. This cover was set at a minimum of THB 40,000 outpatient cover and a minimum THB 400,000 inpatient cover. The cover was required to be obtained from an approved list of providers from the Thai General Insurance Association. These limits have however been revised.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, all foreigners travelling to Thailand are also required to acquire a Certificate of Entry (COE) from the local Thai Embassy or Consulate in their country before travelling. The COE comes with a reservation in a quarantine hotel where the traveller may be required to undertake quarantine.
Updated Health Insurance Requirements
In October 2021, the Health Ministry announced an update to the health insurance requirements for foreigners with non-immigrant OA visas, or retirement visas. Foreigners are now required to hold a minimum of THB 3 million in health cover for inpatient services. This is almost 8 times what was previously required.
This change was made to ensure that any foreigner that gets sick during their stay in Thailand can receive adequate treatment. Visa holders are free to take up policies from approved providers in Thailand or their home countries. If they however opt to take the policies from abroad, they must ensure the limits in whatever currency are equivalent to THB 3 million at a minimum.
This requirement is mandatory for new applicants for retirement visas. Those that already hold retirement visas may retain their existing health insurance policies but must make the upgrade by August 31, 2022. The policy should cover treatment for all kinds of illnesses, including Covid-19.
Acquiring health cover as a senior can often be expensive. It is advisable to carry out some comparison shopping both locally and abroad with approved providers to ensure you are getting the best value for money. Local insurers are formulating new health packages to keep up with new regulations and can be contacted for quotes.
Related CTN News: